Devendra Banhart, Nino Rojo (XL)

The Stereo Effect (UK)| by Karen Piper

Nino Rojo sounds so far beyond record labels and pop charts

Strange, isn’t it? How something so leftfield (and he truly is), and quintessentially unique can capture imaginations on a grand scale? Already onto his second UK release, Devendra Banhart has delivered Nino Rojo, mere months after his debut Rejoicing in the Hands, and to little surprise, it’s another whopping sixteen tracks of blissful disengagement from the here and now.

Never once during his romp, and it is a romp - “Little Yellow Spider” is a belter of a campfire tune – does Devendra glimpse the vultures that are circling and waiting for the kill. His voice is a rusty nail, love it or hate it, and the songs as simple as picnics and the years before the war (we guess). Despite being able to play for worshipping crowds, he still sounds like pure isolation. “I’d like to dance with you if you’d like me to” he quivers, half-sad and half-passionate quiver.

Maybe it’s the beard, and the voice, or maybe it’s the sound of a rickety rocking chair on an old porch, the moonshine, the goldrush and the dusty sunsets – all those things that don’t really exist in real life (do they?) that make Devendra Banhart more than a flash in the pan.

Nino Rojo sounds so far beyond record labels and pop charts. Wonderful because it’s beyond recording studios and producers, and we’d be heartbroken if someone was so callous to reveal to us that it’s not. We sway to a chorus of “Shining love” at the end of “Electric Heart” and bid a short, strange, but loving farewell to Mr. Banhart, for he will return and make our hearts flutter once more. We’re almost sure of it.